Clooney & 12 Boston Creams

I’m standing by myself at the counter of a donut shop. It has to be 5am or earlier given how dark it is outside. There are no street lamps or headlights from passing cars, just blackness, making me think maybe the three large windows surrounding the seating area are painted black. 

It’s a sharp contrast to the brightness of the fluorescent lighting and the shop’s all-white d├ęcor. The sterility reminds me of the nurse’s station on a hospital ward. I place my hands on the counter in front of me and yawn large enough to swallow a bowling ball, just as the little bell at the entry jiggles, announcing the arrival of another early morning patron. 

“Little too early for ya?” I hear in a deep tone. Without a person attached, it could be a commercial voice-over. Bringing my face back into proportion and focusing my eyes, I realize the voice belongs to none other than George Clooney. He’s wearing a stylish black suit and shirt sheathed in an equally black overcoat cut just below the knees. It’s as if he’s wearing the darkness from outside the shop as he stands next to me at the counter. His friendly smile fades into a yawn. “Guess it’s a little early for me too.”

Now, most people in this situation would lose all manner of composure, breaking out with, “Oh my gawd! Your, your… I can’t believe it….” Not me. Retaining my dignity is as essential as a functioning kidney. One of the moments that I relish in life, besides maybe collecting Jesus bobblehead dolls, is running into an extremely famous person and acting as if I have no earthly idea who they are. To me they could be a plumber, an accountant, or exotic dancer, that I wouldn’t normally give a second look. I figure that if I can’t be famous, no one else should be either. Narcissistic as this may sound, it doesn’t mean, however, that I am rude about it. It’s just a game to see what kind of reaction I get (ok, really, I’m just being coy in the hopes my cool demeanor will impress them as someone who can handle the attention associated with being best friends with a celebrity. Well, so much for my dignity. At least I still have my kidneys.).

“Yeah, I’m not even sure how I got here.” I say with exaggerated confusion and look around. George smiles and then breaks into another yawn, triggering the same in me. 

“You gotta….” I suck in a mouthful of air and finish by exhaling, “Ohhhh, Stop doin’ that.” 

George finishes, nodding his head. “Ya, sorry about that.” We both chuckle, and I turn to face the selection of donuts displayed behind the counter. From the corner of my eye, I can tell he’s still looking at me, pushing his lower lip into his upper one and raising his eyebrows in an expression of curiosity over the fact I haven’t made the slightest fuss over this presence. 

I feel a degree of satisfaction in the moment, like passing a defensive driving exam. Eventually he turns to face the selection of donuts, which are sorted into groups where they lay quietly in wire racks. I scan the plaques using my finger as a sort of pointer while mouthing titles until I find the ones I came for. Twists, fruit filled, powdered, uh, there we go. 

George makes several quick glances in my direction until one of the employees steps out from behind the back as if they were a performer walking onto a stage. It’s a short woman wearing an apron stained with batter and a hair net that doesn’t cover all of her head. She wipes her brow with her forearm and grabs a piece of wax paper in anticipation. “Can I help whoever is next?” She smiles as she looks back and forth at the two of us.

“Uh…um, he was first.” George says nodding his head in my direction. 

I smile back as a gesture to thank him. He seems even more confused realizing the woman behind the counter doesn’t have any idea who he is either. 

“Uh, ok, let’s see… I need to get a dozen donuts,” I begin, prompting the woman to put down her wax paper and reach for the appropriately sized box. She looks back at me in anticipation of my first selection. George was looking at me too. I felt a moment of nervousness, but not from being in the momentary spotlight. 

Picking donuts – I mean right donuts – is an extremely traumatic situation for me. It conjures flashbacks of the innumerable Saturdays my father sent me on the morning donut run for all the employees at the business he owned. Upon returning, my father would open each box and inspect my selections with the air of a snooty French food critic, looking down his and declaring the contents as “unsuitable.” 

It wasn’t till years later when I discovered him huddled over a trash can, picking a cigarette butt off a half-eaten glazed cruller that I realized where two dozen “unsuitable” donuts consistently disappeared to by noon of each Saturday. “You need help, dad.” I remember saying as I turned, walking away in disgust. After that, the onset of cold sweats and DT-like tremors brought on by trying to decide between blueberry cake or strawberry filled never plagued me again. Even still, a familiar uneasiness lingers in my subconscious from my childhood trauma. Friends have suggested hypnotic therapy, but I like to hold on to nostalgia. 

“Let’s get a chocolate cake with icing, two iced with the sprinkles, a glazed…” There’s always one in the group that likes those plain, old, glazed donuts – I have no idea who that person is or who I was even sharing these with, but if there is one thing I learned in all those donut runs it’s that someone’s favorite is the traditional donut coated a crackling sugary glaze. I kept track of the count in my head reserving space for at least two (okay four) of my all-time favorites. 

“And four Boston Creams,” I said finishing out my order.

The lady paused. “Oh, let me check, we just finished up the first batch for today.” Then she headed to the back. 

I looked over at George, “Sorry to hold you up. The Boston Creams are my favorites… chocolate icing on the top – the creamy filling in the middle.” I circled my finger in the air as if there were a donut hovering before my face and I was swirling it through the pudding-like filling. “I’m such a kid.” 

He turned to me, “Uh, no problem.” His shook his head slightly. “This seems like serious business for you.”

“Yeah,” I laughed. An image of my dad slumping in his easy chair appeared in my head. Drool dripping like a leaking faucet onto his Betty Ford T-shirt, a ring of white residue coating his nostrils, presumably left from a powdered sugar donut. The vision of this made me somewhat less anxious. “It’s a long story.”

He smiled and took a step towards me leaning in, “I’m George, by the way.” He pulled his hand from his pocket and extended it in my direction, “George Clooney.” 

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